Lionel Taito-Matamua

Scientist and innovator tackling plastic waste in the Pacific
Taito Matamua

Lionel Taito-Matamua

Scientist and innovator tackling plastic waste in the Pacific

Biography

At 23, New Zealand­ born Samoan – Lionel Taito­-Matamua started to learn more about the issue of plastic waste.

We don’t have any systems in Samoa to recycle plastic. It all ends up in landfills, the oceans or it’s burnt.

He began to explore and test emerging technologies to tackle the problem, in particular the use of 3D printing technology could create tools and meaningful objects of value from recycled plastic. This could be one way to help address the growing amount of plastic waste filling up landfills and waterways in Samoa, and other more marginalised communities.

Creative solutions included making souvenirs out of tourists’ discarded water bottles, and making models of marine mammals that could be used as classroom resources to educate students about the effects of marine pollution.

His small­scale working prototype led to him being shortlisted as a finalist in two categories for the New Zealand Innovators Awards in 2015.

Lionel plans to introduce the project in Samoa where he hopes locals will use the technology to curb the increasing problem of plastic waste. He has also been working with students from a range of low decile schools in the wider Wellington area to put the technology in their hands, and then to investigate ways that they can apply it to upcycle plastic.

 

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